In their respective farewell speeches during their final City Council meeting Friday, Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell both made reference to the protesters who have regularly filled the chamber in recent months.
O’Farrell, who represents the 13th District, lost his re-election bid to Hugo Soto-Martinez after serving two terms. Fifth District representative Koretz served the maximum three terms before losing the City Controller’s race to Kenneth Mejia. He will be replaced on the council by Katy Young Yaroslavsky.
O’Farrell called out what he saw as an “unfortunate place” of “hate and incivility” becoming socially acceptable behavior.
“That’s really sad,” O’Farrell said. “We see it every day in this chamber. We saw it today.”
Protesters have regularly shown up at meetings demanding that Kevin de LeÃ³n and Gil Cedillo resign before the city conducts its business. On Friday, de LeÃ³n tried to attend his first meeting in nearly two months, showing up in the middle of the meeting. But he left after protesters began shouting and Council President Paul Krekorian called a recess.
“I will caution the body politic that it’s especially important in this current, toxic, political climate here in Los Angeles that we don’t lose sight of the distinction between ideology and public service,” O’Farrell said.
O’Farrell said that “unchecked ideology” from both the extreme right and left has led to a rise in hate incidents and the spread of disinformation, calling out social media and “some in our mainstream media here in Los Angeles.”
“Public service is not a zero sum game,” O’Farrell said. “It is a noble and a sacred duty.”
Koretz was more direct when addressing the protesters. He said he was feeling a “combined sense of loss but also a great sense of relief” to say goodbye to City Hall.
“It’s been a tough last two and a half years,” Koretz said. “I sometimes think: `Thank God I’m out of here.’ And the rest of the time, I think I’m really think I’m going to miss this, and everything that we could accomplish.”
Then, Koretz — a typically lowkey council member — ended his speech by repeating the words of an angry public commenter who gained fame in June 2020 while addressing the Los Angeles Police Commission.
“I would just say lastly, to the disruptors and protesters who have done their best to make it difficult for us to do our work in the last two and a half years, in their words: `I yield the rest of my time and (expletive) you,”’ Koretz said.
Fellow council members and staffers around the horseshoe broke out in raucous applause and laughter.
“I didn’t warn Gail (his wife) or anyone else that I was going to say that,” Koretz said.
Krekorian then encouraged Koretz to do a mic drop.
“Koretz out,” Krekorian said. “I’ve been surprised by a lot of things in my times in the chamber. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as surprised as at what I just heard.”